German security firm G Data put out an interesting press release last month regarding the expected successor to the Zeus trojan, which infected millions of PCs and captured bank account details. The new trojan, Ares, has a similar modular design, allowing it to be easily configured for a range of target activities.
Malware is big business and a software development kit for Ares is already available to buy on-line, either for an upfront payment of $6,000 or else on a licensing model for when modules are subsequently sold on. There’s even a cut-down version at $850.
The developer of Ares talked about the new malware in an underground forum. According to the author, Ares is “not focused on banking. Every copy of Ares is unique to its customer and it has the same banking capabilities as Zeus & SpyEye which can be added provided the customer wants it. I actually consider this more of a platform which is customized to each buyers liking.”
Without a doubt, malware and virus writing is no longer the domain of the insecure nerd trying to prove his expertise to his peers. This is now business, criminal business, with significant money involved. And when they catch the writer, I hope that the penalties will be commensurate.
Unless you want to be a victim, make sure you have virus and malware protection in place and keep it updated.